Friday, September 16, 2011

Poverty Looks Nice To Me

Listening to the nightly news this past Tuesday, I was flabbergasted to see their news segment on poverty after a new report showed that poverty levels increased for the fourth year in a row and there are more people in poverty now than ever before since records tracking it began in 1959. Over forty-six million Americans or 15% of the population now live in poverty. To emphasis their point, they interviewed the Anareese and Angel Hidalgo family from Florida who are now living in 'poverty'.

According to the video report where these screen captures were taken, the Hidalgos lost their job a year ago and now the four of them are living on $189 a week while their house is being foreclosed upon.  Here is a family who has a very nice house, nice appliances and designer decorations, all of which are much better than my own and my income is nowhere near the poverty level.

All I can see is a family who spent WELL BEYOND their means to live a lifestyle not supported by their income when they had it and now that they don't, they burnt through their $40,000 savings and their house is being foreclosed upon.  Cry me a river. Around here we call that paying the piper.

The questions that should have been asked to the Hidalgo family are: how on earth did they blow through $40,000 in less than a year when they both knew they didn't have a source of income and if they wanted to live the lifestyle they were living which is their right, why didn't they have an appropriate level of money in their savings account to support it when the economy got tough AS IT DOES ON A FAIRLY REGULAR CYCLE? The Hidalgo family are not the face of poverty, they are the face of stupidity.


Vince said...

I get the sense that the house is the result of the second income.
What I don't quite get is why they didn't downsize once it became clear they were in trouble. You have non-recourse mortgages, and I know that a good credit rating is very important in the States. There gets to a point where protecting a rating is beggaring you. But there has to be a reason why they are still in the house.
Just a question though, if you were employing someone, a, would you check their credit, b, how much weight would you place on it.

Ed said...

Vince - I'm guessing the reason they didn't downsize right away, if they even tried, was that the housing market sucks, especially in Florida. That is why I bought less than half the house that the bank would loan me money for because I wanted a house that I could more easily sell if times got rough and one that I could afford even with half of just one income. Call me conservative but I'm not being foreclosed upon either.

As to the second question, we don't check people's credit scores when we hire them. The people we employ are not managing money and they aren't managing the business so whether or not they can manage their finances really isn't relevant as long as they come to work and do the job we hired them for. But if I were hiring a financial manager, then I would think that their credit report is fair game.

R. Sherman said...

Well said. Unfortunately, those of us who live well within our means are the ones who are going to be stuck with the bill. We live frugally as responsible adults, the politicians get the kudos for "alleviating" the problems caused by individuals and we taxpayers get to pick up the check. All that nice furniture, the decorations, the cell phones, cable TV, etc. you see in those photos? That's our stuff. These people and the politicians who derive power from them stole it from you and me and they're not done yet. They won't be satisfied until you and I are really out on the street.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - In my original post, I had a paragraph on the cost of them living beyond their means was being paid by me but I couldn't come up with the words and so I just cut it out. You said it quite well with your comment.

edifice rex said...

Yup. Unfortunately, most of society, if in this same situation, would see themselves as 'victims', not as maybe being stupid for living something they couldn't afford. People have no grasp of financial reality anymore or how to plan for it.

Murf said...

This is a pretty harsh entry coming from a good Catholic boy like yourself as are some of the comments (so much for pride goeth before the fall, eh?). At least in your recapping of the piece, there is no mention of what they did before or how this all came about. You're just speculating while patting yourself on the back for someone else's misfortune rather it's their own fault or the fault of their realtor/mortgage company who didn't make them really look at their finances before buying. Everyone dreams of owning their own house and being the all-American family and all the accoutrements that may come with that title. Instead of feeling smug that you nabbed yourself a doctor who could always find a job once the need for any engineer starts to dwindle, you should feel thankful.

Ed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed said...

Murf - For the record, I nabbed a girl who wasn't employed. She later became my wife and much much later became a doctor. We still have a year before she is gainfully employed as such. I am thankful.

I am more thankful that she shares my values namely living beneath our means. I drive a 14 year old car that replaced a 17 year old car before it. I rented until I had enough money to make a substantial down payment on a house so I wouldn't go underwater on the loan. I also bought a house worth way less than half of what the bank would loan me so I could continue making payment for a long time unemployed. I wear a $20 Timex and wear $25 jeans. I live beneath my means. Why?

I was laid off the week before 9/11 and thought I would never get a job again. I then lost a second job when my job was shipped overseas. I was fortunate that I found the job that I'm in but I've no illusions that when it is over, I may not find another. Engineering has gone from a top notch job to one I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Yes this family and any family that loses it all is sad but it isn't my fault and it irks me that I have to keep bailing these people out for the bad choices they have made when they live much better than I do on less money. Now that the system is chewing them up and spitting them out, as it does all stupidity eventually, I find it hard to shed a tear. This isn't about class but has everything to do with living within your means, something that the family in those pictures knows nothing about.

Murf said...

But you are judging just by photos. Have you looked at their financial records? They could easily have found their decor at garage sales or handy-me-downs from their parents or whatnot. Someone mentioned cell phones and I don't seen any in the photos and if they did have them, you can cheapily get a cell phone and a pay-as-you-go plan. Next time you go to church, try listening to the message or just not go since you obviously don't live by the book.

Ed said...

Murf - Since neither of us are privy to their financial records, we must go on appearances. You obviously haven't looked at the linked video for there are not only cellphones but laptops and such throughout it. Also you neglect to justify their blowing through $40,000 in less than a year when they both didn't have a job. That is a lot of garage sales.

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.